Monthly update: Crypto crashes and alternative schooling

May 29, 2021 9:20 am

Hi !

I'm trying out a new format this month. It's going to end up being longer, but more personal. I don't know yet whether that's a good thing.

Like it? Prefer the old format? Want something else entirely? Please give me your honest feedback! I can take it.

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πŸ’‘ This month in ideas

I've stopped publishing on my blog weekly because it was a useful discipline (I kept it up for about 18 months), but ultimately I'd rather put the time into more meaningful pieces of work like books (which I'm working on!)

I did, however, publish a piece about why I think government bonds are a daft thing to invest in. It may be totally wrong, but at least it's quite funny.

We've also, if I do say so myself, been on a good run of form on The Property Podcast. This episode about the current property boom was a lot of fun to record, and got some good reactions.

πŸ’° This month in investing

The big investing event this month was Bitcoin crashing by nearly 50% due to Elon Musk, then crashing again due to something to do with China, then selling off again for some reason I never fully got to the bottom of. All within a week.

Dramatic events like this are brilliant for discovering what you really believe about an asset you're holding. It's easy to talk the big "be greedy when others are fearful" game in the abstract, but it only means something when it's put to the test for real.

I'm pleased to report that my immediate response was not to panic, but to buy more: the reason for the drop didn't affect the overall investment case, so why not pick up more at a lower price? However, it also made me realise I'd be gutted if I'd just piled in with a large position yesterday – so validated my current approach of just making a small buy every so often.

(Standard disclaimer bit: I only have a small position, just because I do something doesn't mean you should, nothing here is investment advice.)

πŸ‘Ά This month in parenting

Since way before our kid was born, we were conscious that we wanted to find an alternative to "normal" school. But as with anything, it's hard to get motivated to actually do anything about it until the deadline is looming – so with little over a year to go before he's supposed to rock up at 8.50am with name labels sewn into his uniform, we're finally getting serious about finding another option.

Why bother? School works out reasonably well for most people in the end, so it's not like it's a terrible default. But we're looking for something different for the same reason we've done a lot of weird things over the years: because it feels like there's got to be a better way. In this case that means smaller class sizes, more convenient hours, more flexibility, less rigidity of curriculum, no sports day to be obligated to attend.

Homeschooling is off the menu, because...well, you wouldn't want to be with your child all day every day either, would you? The ideal looks to me like the kind of "microschool" angel investor Jason Calacanis proposed last year, but there aren't any near us and starting one seems like a major time commitment (as soon as you go above four children you're in Ofsted territory).

If you're taking an unconventional approach to your children's education, let me know because we're nowhere near cracking this yet.

πŸ’ͺ This month in health

I started a three-month programme with a personal trainer this month, and everyone around me knows it by the agonised noises I make every time I reach for something or get out of a chair.

The best part has been just handing over control to an expert and not giving it any further thought. Generally I have a major aversion to being told what to do, but occasionally it's such a relief: just eat what I'm told, turn up and do the movements I'm told, and trust the process.

For before/after photos, check out my Insta. No, not really.

πŸ•Ά This month in life

For some reason, I've had nothing but amazing customer service this month. It's such a great competitive advantage: there are many instances where I'd happily pay (say) 10-20% more just to know it'll be a pleasant, hassle-free experience.

Particular recognition is due to for appliances, Thread for clothes (which seems to be huge, but I've never heard anyone mention it) and Ace & Tate for glasses.


🍿 This month in media

πŸ“– My wife recommended The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – a dead easy and fun piece of fiction about a man with Asperger Syndrome and his quest to find the perfect wife. It won't change your life, but it'll make you smile.

πŸ“ˆ Lyn Alden is my favourite economics writer/thinker by a long way. You may not want a 43 minute read about inflation, and I don't judge you at all if that's the case. But if you do, hers is excellent.

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬ Civilisations have risen and fallen in less time than it took me to finish listening to The History of Ancient Egypt, but it was highly enjoyable – and I'm still blown away that you can experience 24 hours with one of the world's best teachers on a subject for roughly Β£8. (My favourite fact: pharaohs always wore false beards, including the female ones.)

πŸ‘‹That’s it for May! Please let me know what you think of this new format, what you'd like to see more/less of, or what you'd change. I want to make this newsletter as interesting and useful as possible, and you can help me do that.



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